Blue Jays vs. Cardinals series preview: Pujols and Molina can pitch, too

Watch as St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina comes out to pitch the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates and helps them hold onto an 18-run lead.

The Toronto Blue Jays continue interleague play with a quick two-game road set against the St. Louis Cardinals, starting Monday night.

Here’s a look at the series.

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Monday, 7:45 p.m. ET / 4:45 p.m. PT (Sportsnet ONE): Toronto RHP Jose Berrios (3-2, 4.83 ERA) vs. St. Louis RHP Miles Mikolas (3-2, 1.68 ERA)

Tuesday, 7:45 p.m. ET / 4:45 p.m. PT (Sportsnet ONE): Toronto RHP Kevin Gausman (3-3, 2.52 ERA) vs. St. Louis TBA

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LATEST ON THE BLUE JAYS

The Blue Jays (22-19) missed yet another chance to sweep a series on Sunday because of a familiar problem – lack of offence. Toronto went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss to the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

We’re now a quarter of the way through the season, so it is a major concern. The Blue Jays scored just seven runs in three games against the league-worst Reds. Despite that, they had a chance for an elusive sweep before Toronto native Joey Votto broke a tie with a solo shot in the eighth inning off Yimi Garcia.

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LATEST ON THE CARDINALS

The Cardinals (23-18) are coming off a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates, capped by an 18-4 win in the Steel City on Sunday. Albert Pujols, 42, who came off the bench in the fifth, belted two home runs to give him 683 for his career, which will come to a close after this season.

The game was so one-sided that the Cardinals had veteran catcher Yadier Molina pitch the ninth, preserving their bullpen (Pujols also came in to pitch in relief earlier this month). “Mine was better; I didn’t give up a double like he did,” Pujols told St. Louis media.

Molina disagreed: “I didn’t walk anybody.” Molina gave up all four Pirates runs. Meanwhile Cardinals starter and former Blue Jay Steven Matz exited in the first inning with shoulder stiffness.

WHO’S HOT

Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is second in the National League in batting average, hitting .342. He has six home runs and 29 RBIs. Manager Oliver Marmol gave Goldschmidt the day off on Sunday.

CANADIAN SIDELINED

Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill, a native of Burnaby, B.C., is on the 10-day injured list because of a right shoulder issue. Former Blue Jay Corey Dickerson, a left-handed bat, is getting more playing time with O’Neill out.

TOUGH CHALLENGE

The Cardinals’ opening-game starter has been the best member of their rotation this season – which isn’t great news for the offensively challenged Blue Jays. After a number of injury-plagued seasons, Mikolas has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his eight starts this year.

THE BIG NUMBER: 444

That’s how many pitchers Pujols has homered off in his illustrious career.

UP NEXT

After the mini-series in St. Louis, the Blue Jays get an off day on Wednesday before playing four games in Los Angeles against the Angels to wrap up this road trip.

— With files from The Associated Press

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